[Hpn] "Gentle" Ban On Sleepng? ~Lets See 10,000 Units Of Housing Built

William C. Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Thu, 3 Feb 2005 06:43:40 -0500


In 2000  New Hampshire's (ex) governor Jeanne Shaheen promised to implement
housing to allow those incarcerated in nursing homes and homeless to have
permanent  housing built  the building was supposed to have begun. Can any
one tell me how many units of said housing have been built for thes purpose?

But also at that time we were 20,000 units of affordable rental housing
short here in NH,we are now  more than 25,000 units of housing short so
obviously we must  request that money being poured into band aid fixes  be
utilized for real housing,not  expanding jails,prisons,or larger nursing
homes.

We have about 1,700 persons wanting release from  nursing homes and there is
no housing, and unless real affordable homes is being built  no more money
should be allocated for band aid fix housing, as it only sucks up the funds
needed for permanent housing thus increasing the time a person is homeless
or  remains in jail as HUD law says"No one shall be released to a state of
homelessness".

In The Struggle
William "Bill" Tinker
www.newhampshirehomeless.org
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
www.thestar.com/

Thursday Feb. 3, 2005


Homeless plan passes

Sleeping at Nathan Phillips Square immediately banned

$18.4M in first year includes outreach workers, housing

CATHERINE PORTER AND MEGAN OGILVIE
CITY HALL BUREAU

Starting this morning, homeless people will face a "gentle" ban on sleeping
in Nathan Phillips Square and other public squares around Toronto.
City council yesterday passed Mayor David Miller's plan to help get homeless
people off the streets and into housing by a vote of 28-9.
The plan, which will cost $18.4 million in its first year, will:
Ban sleeping in Nathan Phillips Square and, later, other public spaces.
Hire six new outreach workers - at a cost of $1.5 million in the first
year - to provide one-on-one service to people on the street, aiming to coax
them into more permanent housing.
Add about $11.2 million to a city fund to build 1,000 new affordable housing
units per year.
Lobby the province and Ottawa to build more supportive-housing units, issue
more rent supplements and increase the number of mental-health and
addiction-treatment beds for homeless people.
Open a new emergency shelter, with assessment and referral services, by next
winter at a cost of about $1.1 million.
The ban on sleeping outside at city hall remained the most controversial
part of the plan.
Miller said people breaking the bylaw won't be arrested. Only after they
have been individually counselled by outreach workers and offered housing
will they be asked by bylaw officers to leave the square, he said.
"I think that will be extremely rare," the mayor said.
Much of the money for the plan will come from city and federal reserves -
the majority stemming from a 1995 settlement with the provincial government,
after then-premier Mike Harris cancelled social-housing projects in the
city.
The plan passed after a feisty nine-hour debate.
Miller, who shepherded it through council, called it "a victory for people
living on the street." After the vote, he described it as a "humane,
made-in-Toronto approach to dealing with homelessness."
But street nurse Cathy Crowe, a long-time member of the Toronto Disaster
Relief Committee, said the plan won't make a dent in the problem.
"I'm extremely upset about the bylaw around city hall," she said.
The plan was touted as "extensive," "humane," "thoughtful" and
"well-balanced" by its supporters. Other councillors condemned it as "soft,"
"unfocused" and "draconian."
Councillor David Shiner (Ward 24, Willowdale) said it would set up false
hopes by promising to build 1,000 units of affordable housing a year.

"We can't even fix the TTC. We can't keep the wheels on the buses. We can't
buy subway cars. How are we going to build 10,000 units of housing?" he
said. We're going broke. So we're giving false promises."
Others unsuccessfully argued that the plan's commitment to spend $11.2
million on building those units should instead go to rent subsidies for
existing privately owned apartments that are empty.
"There is no lack of housing. The vacancy rate is 4 per cent. If you assume
that there are a million housing units in Toronto, which is probably an
underestimate, there are at least 40,000 vacant units in the city," said
Councillor Case Ootes (Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth), who called the plan
"muddled," "nice" and "touchy-feely" but, in the end, ineffective. Some
councillors urged an official census of the number of people living on the
street, so the depth of the problem - and the success of the plan - can be
measured. Council ordered staff to report on how to do the street people
count. To date, the number is estimated at anywhere from 200 to 2000, said
Eric Gam, the community and neighbourhood services commissioner.
Although funding for the plan won't come out of other city programs, some
councillors argued that too much money is already being thrown at the
growing problem on the city's streets.
"We keep putting money into the budget and I see more homeless people on the
streets than I ever have. "It's getting out of control," argued Councillor
Frances Nunziata (Ward 11, York South-Weston).
While voting for the bulk of the plan, eight councillors voted against the
ban on sleeping in public spaces.
It's an odious proposal that violates citizen's rights, said Councillor
Michael Walker (Ward 22, St. Paul's).
"It's a violation of the citizens who are the weakest, the most vulnerable,
the poor, the people we are embarrassed about because they are homeless out
on the streets and we have to walk around them," he said, calling it a
"physical statement that we failed on a major social policy issue: the right
to decent housing.
"And what flows from that is the right to dignity, the right to food, the
right to good education and the right to get a job." Other councillors said
it was a necessary nudge to propel people to help themselves.
That's what the experience of Tent City taught her, said Councillor Olivia
Chow. There, more than 100 people were forced to move out in 2002 and given
the option of rent supplements in market apartments. The result was a
"stunning" success, she said. "At the end of the day, there are a few
people, small, small number of people, that you need to say that this is the
alternative, please take it," Chow (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) said.
"Is it called banning? No. Is it called gentle persuasion? Yes. And that is
what we need."
A day after protestors occupied the floor of the city council chamber to
denounce the plan, a small number of homeless activists were temporarily
denied entry to city hall yesterday.
Street nurse Crowe, a recent appointee to the city's board of health, said
she entered city hall past a cordon of security and police officers, but
some of those accompanying her - identified as being part of the Tuesday
protest - were turned away.
Miller said the move was a necessary precaution.
"I don't recall in the history of the city people invading the council floor
and a councillor having to stop somebody from proceeding further towards the
clerk's desk and the mayor's area," he said. "I may be wrong, but the
appropriate steps have to be taken when that kind of thing happens."
Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) called the decision an
"abrogation ... of democratic rights here."
"This is a public space, it's supposed to be open to citizens," said Don
Weitz, who was initially refused entrance but later admitted.
Dale Whitmore, 24, called the situation "another step in the destruction of
Miller's thin veneer of so-called social democracy and concern for the
poor."
"We've gone from a campaign based on the idea of building housing, openness
and accountability, and in a very short time we're left with draconian new
anti-poor laws, no social housing and lines of police keeping the community
out of city hall."
With files from Bruce DeMara


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